If I was forced to choose a favorite type of bear, I would have to go with the incredible Polar Bear. These animals are furocious, gracefull, resilliant, terrifying and cute all wrapped up in a white fluffy coat….or are they? White fluffy coat I mean.
For those that agree that the Polar Bear is a truly awesome animal, this page is dedicated to them, enjoy 🙂
General Information on Polar Bears
The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is a carnivorous bear whose native range lies largely within the Arctic Circle, encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is a large bear, approximately the same size as the omnivorous Kodiak bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi).
A male adult polar bear, also known as a Boar, weighs around 350–700 kg, while a sow (adult female) is about half that size.
Although it is the sister species of the brown bear, it has evolved to occupy a narrower ecological niche, with many body characteristics adapted for cold temperatures, for moving across snow, ice, and open water, and for hunting the seals which make up most of its diet. Although most polar bears are born on land, they spend most of their time at sea. Their scientific name means “maritime bear”, and derives from this fact. Polar bears hunt their preferred food of seals from the edge of sea ice, often living off fat reserves when no sea ice is present.
The polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, with eight of the nineteen polar bear subpopulations in decline. For decades, large scale hunting raised international concern for the future of the species but populations rebounded after controls and quotas began to take effect. For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of Arctic indigenous peoples, and polar bears remain important in their cultures.
Polar Bear Stats
Scientific name: Ursus maritimus
Higher classification: Ursus
Mass: 150 – 250 kg (Adult, Female), more
Speed: 10 km/h (Adult, Swimming), 5.6 km/h on average (Adult, Walk)
Height: 1.22 – 1.6 m (Adult, At Shoulder), 1.33 m on average (Adult, At Shoulder, Male)
Length: 1.8 – 2.4 m (Adult, Female), 2.4 – 3 m (Adult, Male)
Information on Polar Bears
Polar bears live in countries that ring the Arctic Circle: Canada, Russia, the United States (in Alaska), Greenland and Norway. In the winter, temperatures in the Arctic are usually around minus 29 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 34 degrees Celsius) and can reach as low as minus 92 F (minus 69 C). The temperature of the water is frigid, as well, reaching as low as 28 F (minus 2 C), the freezing point of seawater, according to PBS Nature.
Polar bears are excellent swimmers; their scientific name, Ursus maritimus, means “sea bear,” according to the San Diego Zoo. They use their big front feet to paddle and their back legs as rudders. These bears have been known to swim more than 60 miles (100 km) without rest.
Polar bears are solitary. The animal will spend its days sitting on the ice by a seal breathing hole, waiting for one to pop up. This style of hunting is called still-hunting. Polar bears will also seek out seal lairs, crash through the roof and kill the seals inside.
Unlike other bears, polar bears do not hibernate in the winter, according to the San Diego Zoo. They continue to hunt, unless the weather is extremely cold. Then they may seek shelter in a snow den.
The polar bear’s primary food source is seals. Their diet of meat makes them carnivores. If the food supply is plentiful, they will only eat seal blubber. This high-calorie meal helps the bears build up fat reserves, which keep polar bears healthy between feedings and help maintain their body temperature. According to PBS Nature, polar bears need 4.4 lbs (2 kg) of fat each day. This is equal to about 121 lbs. of seal (55 kg) and provides about eight days’ worth of energy.
If seal hunting isn’t going well, polar bears will also eat anything they can find, such as fish, eggs, vegetation, reindeer, rodents, birds, berries and human garbage.
Offspring and Mating
Females usually give birth during the months of November or December, after a gestation of eight months. In preparation, the animals dig a cave from a snow bank in which to have their cubs. This cave is called a maternity den.
A female polar bear typically gives birth to twins, though singles and triplets have been recorded. At birth, a cub weighs only 1.3 pounds (about half a kilogram), but they grow very quickly. Cubs depend on their mothers for warmth and fattening milk, which is 36 percent fat, according to the San Diego Zoo. By spring, the cubs are outside the den, exploring, and at two years of age they are fully mature. Polar bears live around 15 to 20 years.
Polar Bear Classification and Taxonomy
> Kingdom: Animalia
> Subkingdom: Bilateria
> Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia
> Phylum: Chordata
> Subphylum: Vertebrata
> Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
> Superclass: Tetrapoda
> Class: Mammalia
> Infraclass: Eutheria
> Order: Carnivora
> Suborder: Caniformia
> Family: Ursidae
> Genus & species: Ursus maritimus
Polar Bear Facts
> Their fat not only keeps polar bears warm, it also increases their buoyancy when they swim.
> Polar bears have built-in socks. The bottoms of their paws are covered with fur to keep them warm and to help with traction in slippery situations.
> A polar bear can sniff out a seal’s breathing hole from more than half a mile away, according to the National Zoo. The bears can smell a seal on the ice 20 miles (32 kilometers) away.
> Polar bears succeed in catching their prey in only 2 percent of their attempts, the National Zoo says.
> The Inuit people still hunt polar bears for meat and fur, but hunting is carefully regulated by a quota system, according to Polar Bears International. Hunters pay respect to the bear’s soul (“tatkok”) by hanging the skin in an honored place in their igloo for several days. Inuit call polar bears “Nanuk” and believe they are wise, powerful and “almost a man.”
> The Sami (or Lapp) people refuse to say the polar bear’s name for fear of offending it. Instead, they call it “God’s dog” or “old man in the fur cloak,” according to Polar Bears International.
Polar Bear Documentaries
BBC The Polar Bear
National Geographic Documentary – Polar Bear
Life of Polar Bear Alcatraz – BBC documentary
World Of Discovery – Polar Bears
More Polar Bear Facts
1. The longest recorded nonstop swim a polar bear has ever made is 426 miles over nine days straight. Watch out Michael Phelps – that’s equivalent to the distance between Washington, D.C., and Boston. During the swim, the female bear lost 22 percent of her body weight. Studies have predicted more long-distance swims are in polar bears’ future due to the shrinking ice caps.
2. The Latin name for polar bears is “ursus maritimus,” which means sea bear. In Inuit mythology, the polar bear is called Pihoqahiak, the “ever-wandering one.”
3. Speaking of languages, the translations to the word(s) for “polar bear” are quite broad. Some of them include lord of the Arctic. Old man in the fur cloak.
4. Female polar bears typically give birth to twin cubs, which stay with her for more than two years until they can hunt and survive on their own. Females receive no help from their solitary male mates.
5. The average adult female weights about 570 pounds. However, when pregnant, they can reach weights as heavy as 1,100 pounds. A fully grown male weighs around 1,000 pounds.
6. The average lifepsan of the bear in the wild is 15 to 18 years.
7. These bears are one of the animals most affected by climate change, with the land literally melting beneath their paws.
8. Seals make up most of a polar bear’s diet.
9.They are the world’s largest land predator and biggest member of the bear family.
10. Their blubber gets up to four inches thick. Under their white fur – which is great camouflage – polar bears have black skin to better soak in the sun’s warmth. Fur even grows on the bottom of their claws, which protects against cold surfaces.
11. Although most polar bears are born on land, they spend most of their time at sea. Two of the Arctic’s most important habitats for them are the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.
12. Polar bears are the only type of bear considered a marine animal.
13. While polar bears look appealing, they are intense predators that rarely fear humans, which can make them dangerous.
14. These arctic kings have no natural enemies.
Polar Bear Pictures
Polar Bear Papers / PDF’s
> Behaviors of Polar Bears with Cub’s in Denning Areas.
> Reproductive Biology and Ecology of Female Polar Bears.
> Terrestrial Predation by Polar Bears.
> Polar Bear Fact Sheet.
> The Polar Bear – Biology Management and Conservation.
> Polar Bear – Effects of Climate Change on Polar Bears.
> General Information of Polar Bears.
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